Sunday, December 23, 2018

Georg Frederick Handel - Hallelujah Chorus in D Major (from The Messiah)

Tomorrow is the Eve of the Feast of the Nativity.  Here at Castle Borepatch the Groaning Board is groaning and the storerooms are bursting with holiday fare - nobody does Christmas like the Queen Of The World.  Indeed, she has transformed the Castle into a Winter Wonderland, and with Christmas music playing amidst all the decorations the place is looking festive indeed.

Because the reason for the season calls for bringing out the best.  Sunday classical music here is no different.  I've posted this before, but there's really nothing more classic for Christmas than this and the holiday demands the best even if it is a repeat.


And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
- Revelation 11:15  
And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
- Revelation 19:6

The biggest mistake that Classical Music (as commonly understood) can make is to divorce itself from its audience.  This divorce explains almost all of why modern Classical Music is such a wasteland of ugliness.  In earlier days, Classical composers were Rock Stars, and the audience treated them as such.  That flame, while flickering, is still burning and even showing signs of roaring back.  Handel's "Messiah" shows that.

Image via Wikipedia
It's a myth that everyone stands for the Hallelujah Chorus because the King was so overwhelmed when he heard it that he lept to his feet.  The rest of the audience of course would have scrambled to theirs as well - nobody sat while the King stood, Back In The Day.  It seems that the story isn't true but I must say that the hair on the back of my neck stood up when the audience rose en masse the first time I performed this.  They also sang along to us, claiming this small portion of Handel's master work as theirs.

That continues to this day with the wonderful new tradition of Classical Music "Flash Mobs".  Essentially, this is music swooping down on people who, unsuspecting, are simply living out an ordinary day of their lives.  The People always rise to this occasion, joining with delight the sudden and seemingly random outbreak of culture.  Here's one example, from a shopping mall in Philadelphia, accompanied by the world's largest pipe organ:

Sure, the camera work is bad (it's mostly caught from within the audience), and the sound quality is amateurish (same problem).  Watch the people - caught without practice, or even a script, they join in the singing.  They take a stuffy Symphony Hall performance and make it their own.  They understand - everyone involved understands - that this is our culture.  The result is a performance done for the joy of the doing by both professionals and audience.  I cannot put into words how beautiful I see these social acts of culture.

And although I have not sung this for twenty years, to this day I could do a creditable job on the baritone part from memory - and could do it justice if I had not gotten rid of the script in the move from Camp Borepatch.

This is Classical Music, as it was understood back in the days when composers were Rock Stars.  And quite frankly, some composers - notably Handel - are still rock stars.  Just watch the people there when the organ kicks off and the chorus unloads the first line.  The audience entirely gets what's going on and joins in, with delight.

This is a meditation on the upcoming holiday.  The Lord Messiah was not sent for a small elite, he was sent for everyone - even shopping mall patrons.  The music of this coming holiday is one that everyone is invited to join in.


Sherm said...

Besides that, it's a hoot to sing.

waepnedmann said...

Handel is a Rock Star.
I like his Water Music, also, in the winter.

libertyman said...

Lost track of the day yesterday, so I am late for class again!
What a wonderful thing to do for the public. And don't misunderstand, but did you see the size of that guy's organ? Any instrument you can play with both hands and both feet that needs its own powerplant is impressive!
Glad you are back singing -- what a gift! Get the music and practice for next year.

Borepatch said...

Sherm, it sure is.

waepnedman, the Water Music is also pretty awesome. Perhaps the pinnacle of Baroque.

libertyman, you really need to give a warning before saying that. People might be drinking coffee or something ... ;-)